A day in the country – Italy at its best

October 8, 2010

There is nothing more beautiful than a leisurely day in the Italian countryside. These beautiful long summer evenings with olives, figs and prosciutto, and , of course, an insalata caprese with mozzarella di buffalo.

What should the wine be? Well, there are many choices. If it is still hot and warm, I would have an Italian white, an aromatic wine from Alto Adige, or a Frascati or a Pinot Grigio.

But that particular evening, we had a red wine, a bottle of Cannonau di Sardegna by Sella and Mosca. It is claimed that the grape variety came from Spain to Italy in the 14th century. This is very likely because Cannonau is the local term for Grenache. And Grenache is of Spanish origin. It is one of the most widely planted grape varieties and makes delicious wines.

The modern style of this variety is lower in alcohol than the traditional one. It is a very enjoyable wine, full of forest fruit with fine tannins and a good balance. You should try a Riserva, though. We had only the simple “country wine” version. Anyway, it was just ‘a day in the country’


Climate change and grape varieties

November 2, 2009

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Riesling grapes in Schoden, Saar, shortly before vintage 2009

Uff, I am reading in todays “Your Daily Wine News” newsletter that some of Australia’s top wine experts think that over the next 20 years climate change will be responsible for the decline of Shiraz and Chardonnay and the rise of varieties such as Vermentino, Arneis, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio and Viognier (some call them “alternative varieties”).

This is bad news for me and my own small vineyard. At Two Hills Vineyard we have concentrated on some of the traditional French varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay (first vintage in 2011 or 2012). Our fruit ripens usually well (if we do not suffer severe frosts) and shows a superior quality. But will that persist under the conditions of climate change?

I still remember vividly how I pulled out the 2 1/2 acres of Cabernet. it was hard work, wrapping a chain around every single vine and lifting the hydraulic of the tractor. I should have left them in, I guess. If temperatures rise in Glenburn, the drought persits, and/or we’ll have less percipitation in the future, Cabernet could have been the ideal variety for our spot. I ripped the vines out because the grapes would not fully ripen. At the moment we have sufficient water, our two dams are overflowing after years of drought but that might change quickly again.

Another issue is age, my age. At 55 I might still have a chance to enjoy some of the coming Chardonnay vintages but replanting would “cost” me many years of waiting. I could contemplate to plant on our second hill where we still have another 5-6 acres of space. Well, let us see what is going to come.

At least there is no politician who tells me what to do and chances are small that an elector such as Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxonia, who changed the Mosel by instructing vintners to ripp out their red varieties and replant with Riesling, would appear on the Australian scene. However, danger is looming from the anti-alcohol lobby in Canberra which is working day and night to convince law-makers that the purchase of alcoholic beaverages needs to be made more costly for the consumer and profitable for the taxmen.


Italian wines for Sunday lunch

September 23, 2009

Sundays in Bangkok is usually fish day. There are many beautiful fish for sale in the markets. So for lunch we select a fish and a white wine. Often I choose to have a Riesling with the food. This time we went “Italian” and bought two bottles of white wine, one on the cheap side, the other a bit dearer. The former was a ‘2007 Montecelli Soave Classico’ from Piave in the Veneto, the latter a ‘2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio’ from the Trentino, in Alto-Adige, Italy.

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2007 Montecelli Soave Classico

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2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio

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The Soave might costs about 3-4 Euro in Europe (or less). If I would buy the Pinot Grigio in the US I would have to pay 25 to 28 US$ for the bottle. In Thai Bath I paid about 500 for the Soave and about 1,000 for the Pinot, which corresponds roughly to 10 and 20 Euro respectively. We liked both wines. The Soave is a bit edgy and had a salty/oily after taste. The Pinot Grigio from Santa Margherita is just great, light bodied, spritzy with crisp acidity and a light lemon-citrus flavour.

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Fried potatoes, zucchini and onions

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Red snapper in caper and olive marinade

The food was simple. Red snapper is a beautiful fish which I like very much. The recipe is from the Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan. I have written about this fabulous cooking book in earlier entries of my blog.

I just love lunches like this one. We all relax, enjoy the food and the company. This was the first time we moved away from the dry Riesling-fish pairing and moved tp the Italian whites. We will repeat this, for sure.
And as Epicurus said: “Pleasure is the beginning and end of living happily”.